Exposing The “Secret Owl Society” Soaring Through History

There is a fair amount of evidence that the owl is the chief symbol of an elite yet undiscovered secret society moving through history. In this article we’ll examine this evidence and uncover the lineage of this secret society. We’ll also learn how the magic, majestic, and nocturnal owl actually symbolizes an ancient self-empowerment doctrine once known and practiced worldwide.

Top Left: Owl on Merchants Building on Broadway at 4th Street in NYC. Top Right: Detail on the Catford Broadway Theatre, London. Bottom Left: Owl depicted on the façade of the Woolworth Building in Manhattan, NYC. Bottom Right: Owl on a bridge of the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut.

A “Secret Owl Society”—a hidden, fraternal Order that uses the owl as its trademark—could very well be exerting a hidden yet continuous and measurable influence on world affairs, undetected by scholars, journalists, and historians.

Its members, possibly those same scholars,  journalists, and historians, are well-versed in mystical traditions, ancient mystery teachings, and eastern philosophies.

This Secret Owl Society remains well-hidden. But if we look back in time and connect all the fraternal orders that have owl logos, we begin to see its lineage, operating for centuries.

Note the society’s chronology below:space

Chronicle of the Secret Owl Society

Above: Is this the society’s hidden timeline?

If indeed there is a Secret Owl Society moving through history, then its most recent manifestation is at the mysterious “Bohemian Grove,” a 2,700-acre campground located at 20601 Bohemian Avenue in Monte Rio, California.

It belongs to a private San Francisco-based men’s art club known as the Bohemian Club, a confederation of the world’s most powerful men who visit the grove in mid-July each year to perform a Pagan ritual at the foot of a giant owl, dressed in robes and chanting incantations.space

Sacred Owl

Left: Built in the 1920, this forty-foot owl statue stands near a lake at the Grove. Since that time it has served as the site of the yearly Cremation of Care Ceremony. Right: Early 1900s. Very tall and very old Redwood trees — some over 1,200 years old.

The Bohemian Club has received very little press coverage since its inception in 1872. Though the Club itself is shrouded in secrecy, the bulk of what transpires at the Grove is somewhat documented; it appears to be a mixture of the American summer camp, a powerful ancient Pagan ritual, and the classical Greek symposium. Greek paganism is certainly an element, with a series of “Grove Plays” called “High Jinks” and “Low Jinks” performed at the Club.space

Famous Bohemians

George H. Bush
George W. Bush
Ronald Reagan
Henry Kissinger
Casper Weinberger
Dick Cheney
Malcom Forbes
Stephen Bechtel
James Baker
David Rockefeller
Tom Johnson
William Randolph Hearst Jr.
Jack Howard
Charles Scripps
Walter Cronkite

Add to this list a host of prominent CEOs and business leaders, most of them conservative, many of them from California, 99 percent of them white men.

Left: Summer, 1967 at “Owls Nest Camp” with two future U.S. presidents: Ronald Reagan, Harvey Hancock (standing), Richard Nixon and Glenn Seaborg. Right: Painted portrait of Haig Patigian with Bohemian Owl in background, by Peter Ilyin (1927). Online Archive of California.space

Occult Meaning of the Cremation of Care Ritual

The apex of the Bohemian Grove’s rituals is the Cremation of Care ceremony. This was devised in 1893 by a member named Joseph D. Redding, a lawyer from New York.

G.William Domhoff, a professor of psychology and sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz,, obtained access to the Bohemian Club’s records and membership and was able to conduct extensive research into the organization and their activities, including details surrounding the Cremation of Care ceremony.

Above: The “Cremation of Care” Ritual. Present here are America’s corporate leaders, dressed in robes, burning their collective conscience at the feet of a statue of a 40-foot owl. (Photo Courtesy of Sonoma County Free Press)

According to Domhoff, on the first Saturday of the camp,  this elaborate ritual is held just after dinner. The ritual’s main theme is the celebratory burning of an effigy of “Dull Care” at the bottom of a forty-foot stone owl.

The ceremony involves the poling of a small boat across a lake containing an effigy of Care (“Dull Care”). Dark, hooded individuals receive the effigy from the ferryman which is placed on an altar and, at the end of the ceremony, is set on fire.

Domhoff notes: “this is the body of Care, symbolizing the concerns and woes that afflict all men during their daily lives.”

The occult meaning of this ceremony seems clear. These men carry the cares of the world and use a symbolic ritual to cast it off. The remaining time at the Club represents a careless period, or vacation of sorts, during which time no business is conducted.

By “cremating” care, they expunge the negative energy of such emotions as worry, fear, and anxiety; it is the goal and magical effect of the ritual, which could more properly be called the “Cremation of worry” or “Cremation of negative energy.”

The pertinent evidence to the present article, of course, is the fact that the ceremony takes place next to a 45 foot (14m) high concrete owl statue, symbolizing knowledge and wisdom. The voice of the owl during the ceremony is former newsman Walter Cronkite, himself a member of the Bohemian Club, and music and fireworks accompany the ritual for dramatic effect.

“More than 100 Bohemians take part in the ceremony…but…they can’t get the fire started. . . the perplexed Bohemians must turn to the mighty Owl for advice: “O thou, great symbol of all mortal wisdom, Owl of Bohemia, we do beseech thee, grant us thy counsel,” intones the High Priest. An aura of light creates a glow around the Owl’s head, and then the big bird reveals its wisdom. The High Priest must light the pyre with the flame from the Lamp of Fellowship…”

— William Domhoff, The Progressive, January 1981 “Bohemian Bigwigs Perpetuate Canaanite Cult”

Taking part in the ceremony increases the chance of a certain outcome: the same stress-release and cleansing of negative energy expected from a vacation. They have created a magic ritual, using the power of fellowship and love, to help cleanse the bad energy from the group. Magical thinking applies here: they believe they have done it, and so they have.

It doesn’t seem to be a location of secret dealings, per se, as conspiracy theorists believe. What actually seems to happen instead is that friendships are made here, truly flowering and blooming in contrast to the ideas of secret or backdoor dealings.

“… my Lakeside Speech at the Bohemian Grove in July 1967…this speech…was off the record it received no publicity…But in many important ways it marked the first milestone on my road to the presidency.”

— President Richard Nixon, Memoirs (1978)

Weaving Spiders Come Not Here

The Bohemian Club’s motto—Weaving Spiders Come Not Here—is a line from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and it directly contradicts the conspiracy theorists’ claim of secret deals and backdoor negotiations.

The line’s connotation is that webs, or deals and plans, cannot be hatched here; instead, the camp is entirely focused on the “Bohemian Spirit,” a term used to signify the camp’s ideals of pleasure, friend, freedom, and awakening.

Left: Metal bas relief owl and inscription on the brick wall at 624 Taylor, San Francisco, CA. Right: The  words above Taylor Street say, ”Weaving Spiders Come Not Here.” The word “weaving” means “planning” which “planning” stands in direction opposition to the occult purpose of the Cremation of Care ceremony, the centerpiece of the Grove.

The spider’s connection with creation and illusion are ancient and myriad:

  • The Greeks associated the spider with the Fates.
  • The Indians associated the spider with Maya, the weaver of illusion.
  • The Scandinavians associated her with the Norns, the women who wove the threads of life.
  • Native Americans believed that the spider wove the first alphabet.

As the spider weaves its web, so too we weave our own lives. Thus spiders symbolize creation, an aspect that has no place in the Grove: the Club is there for the destruction or cremation of care, and destruction is creation’s opposite.

Spiders are feminine, connected to Ishtar, Atargatis, Athene, the Fates, the Norns, Holda, Inktomi, Kokyangwuti, Tsitsicnako and Sussistanako and Neith.

Some Native American tribes believed the spider was the weaver who created the world and saw her as a symbol of creative female energy.

Like women, spiders are in many ways very delicate and gentle creatures. Thus “weaving spiders come not here” is very pertinent in the sense that feminine spiders cannot come to an all masculine retreat.space

The Mystical Owl

For the ancient Egyptians, Celtics, and Hindus owls were connected to guardianship of the underworlds, and protection of the dead. In this light, the owl was ruler of the night and seer of souls, a suitable association for the most mysterious, magical, and powerful bird of the forest.

A misunderstanding of this necessary relationship gave the owl negative associations with death. Because of their wings (which give owls the ability to fly away from earth and shuffle off this ‘mortal coil’) birds in general are symbolic messengers between the earthly and spirit realms.

Note that, while there is a concept of death involved here, it’s only “death” in the sense of being an open doorway from physical to spiritual; more precisely, from the temporary material world we live in now back to the spiritual source from whence we came, and are now traveling toward.

The concept of death is very important in the mystical traditions of the Secret Societies. It is, however, the death of the lower self, and not the soul, that is being affirmed: this death is in fact a doorway back to the Self, revealing the soul inside.

In other words, to transcend death we must realize that we are a higher eternal Self (soul) incarnated in a lower, temporary self (body). Since humans do not realize this, we are, in a sense, “imprisoned” in the body, and must transcend it to free ourselves and realize our own inner divinity.

A “resurrection” back to the true Self is needed, as it were. And for there to be a resurrection, there has to be a sacrifice. This sacrifice is care, the ego, the lower bodily self (lowercase “s”).

In practically every ancient culture, solitary nocturnal creatures are symbolic of these ideas, of inner-knowing, psychic ability, and intuition; all of which are traits of the soul within, not the physical body.

The owl is a perfect example of such a creature. The owl knows all of this. The owl is wise, and always deeply connected with magic, shamanism, and heightened senses throughout the ages.

Owls have been thought of as “cats with wings,” sharing similar characteristics with cats, who are of course the familiars of witches and sorcery (interestingly, owls tend to be the familiars of male mages or wizards):

Native America

Native Americans associated owls with wisdom and foresight, and identified them as keepers of this sacred knowledge.

The bird’s ability to see at night was legend, and this attribute would be invoked during ceremonies when an oracle of secret knowledge was required.

Left: Egyptian Owl. Right: Native American Owl

Shamans called upon Owl medicine for insight. Plains Indians wore owl feathers to protect against evil spirits. The Cree and Apache believed the Boreal Owl was a summoning to the spirit world.

To this day, Native Americans associate the owl with spiritual vision; the owl is viewed with respect and associated with the souls of deceased ancestors.

Africa and Australia

African cultures viewed the owl similarly to the Native Americans, heralding them as messengers of secrets as well as the bird of sorcerers, witches, and warlocks.

In Madagascar owls are said to dance on the graves of the dead, and to the Aboriginal Australians they are companions to medicine people.

Middle and Far East

In some middle and far eastern cultures, the owl is a sacred guardian of the afterlife, ruler of the night as well as a seer and keeper of souls transitioning from one plane of existence to another.

The owl is still considered a witch’s companion, sharing unique spiritual communication between them, and even sharing the same secret powers of the night.


In Celtic tradition, the owl represents wisdom, clairvoyance, stealth, initiation, change and detachment.

Medieval Europeans believed owls were witches and wizards, shape-shifters in disguise.

To this day the owl is considered a witch’s familiar (an animal soul-spirit linked to a spiritual person via a unique, communicative bond).space

Ancient Owls

Left: Prehistoric owl image from France. Right: Ancient vessel from China, 200 BC

In Greek mythology, the owl is firmly linked with Athena, the Goddess of wisdom (and in later times, of battle). She is pictured with her owl on her shoulder, and some say this is why the owl has come to be associated with wisdom; the scientific name for the owl is even “Athene Noctua”. The city of Athens, Athena’s patron city, had an owl on its coins:

Left: Owl, Acropolis, Athens c.500 BC. Right: The owl money of ancient Greece.

And so it is clear that the owl has, for thousands of years, symbolized wisdom, spirituality, our intuitive self, and our connection to the source of our eternal Self.

It is undoubtedly a powerful occult and esoteric symbol, which brings us back to our original point:

Is there a Secret Society that uses the owl as their symbol, and is the Bohemian Club their current incarnation?

Many conspiracy theorists point out the existence and secretive nature of the Club, but few dig deeper into the Club’s history.

Is the Bohemian Club an independent phenomenon, or is it actually the most recent manifestation of a much bigger and older society?

With these questions in mind, we turn to look at another organization similar to the Bohemian Club, and parallel in some ways: the National Press Club, whose logo features a mysterious owl.space

National Press Club Owl

Above: The National Press Club is said to have been established in 1908 by thirty-two newspapermen. Their logo features a large owl perched on a book in front of the capitol building.

The NPC is said to have been established in Washington DC in 1908, soon after elites and journalists on the West Coast established the Bohemian Club. Most presidents have lectured here, and both Carter and Reagan announced their candidacies for president here.

“Through its doors have come presidents, premiers, kings and queens, Cabinet secretaries, senators and House members, movie stars and sports heroes, titans of business and finance – just a who’s who of the 20th and the 21st centuries. Here they have found a willing audience of reporters waiting to grill them with questions, interpret what they say and send the news around the world.”

—National Press Club website

Mystical symbolism in NPC’s logo reveals influence from Bohemian Grove’s Owl Shrine. But is there a link? If so, what exactly is the connection?

Unlike the Bohemian Grove, there are no known “occult” ceremonies attached to the NPC. However, unique and mysterious owl symbolism is certainly present here.

Above: Famous journalist Helen Thomas at NPC (Photo Courtesy of Terry Hill).

A March 28, 2010 article titled Owls Honor Helen Thomas; Everyone has a Hoot said things like:

“Helen Thomas, dean of the White House press corps, was inducted into the Order of the Owls Thursday night during the Spring Hoot of the Club’s Silver Owls.”

  • “The ceremonial award bestowed on Thomas recognizes “birds of a unique species, weathered and wise, who have nested at the National Press Club and demonstrated that they give a hoot for Washington journalism.”
  • “Mae Scanlan, wife of Golden Owl Tom Scanlan, produced a batch of parodies for both the Silver Owls and the Owlets quartets. The young members responded with “We’ll be Loving You, Owl-ways.”
  • “Ten new Golden Owls (members of 50 years) were recognized, along with 40 Silvers (members for 25 years).”

Walt Disney Owl Mystery

The owl symbol is also prevalent among Walt Disney’s most important films. It is said that an owl in one form or another mysteriously appears in every Disney picture. Not only that, but the owl even appears “clandestinely” in at least one Disney picture, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). When Snow White enters the cottage of the seven dwarfs, the esoteric owl imagery is overwhelming. It’s worth watching.Within a 20 minute time span owl “backgrounds” appear many dozens of times.

Left: Owl symbols form the landing at the top of the stairs. Right: Owl symbols form the stairs.

Left: The image of a flying owl forms the top of a coat-rack. Right: The image of owls forming the staircase.

Left: Two owls appear above the doorway.  Right: An owl forms part of a wall-support.

Above: An owl forms part of the headboard of one of the dwarf’s beds

It is said that as a teenager Disney joined the Order of DeMolay, a Masonic youth organization. He is widely quoted as saying:

“I feel a great sense of obligation and gratitude toward the Order of DeMolay for the important part it played in my life. Its precepts have been invaluable in making decisions, facing dilemmas and crises. DeMolay stands for all that is good for the family and for our country. I feel privileged to have enjoyed membership in DeMolay.”

— Walt Disney

There are many more interesting esoteric connections between Disney and Masonry and the Occult. For example, here is an image of Disney at the center of an occult Triptych, the architectural three-in-one pattern which relates the pinnacle of Masonic perennial wisdom, and which is only now being rediscovered:


The Schlaraffia Owl

Established in Prague, Bohemia, 1859, thirteen years before the Bohemian Club, the Schlaraffia was a group of actors, writers, artists and musicians (similar to the Bohemian Club); and they too (like the Bohemian Club) use an owl as their talisman.

This society, called Schlaraffia, is a fraternal body with lodges spread globally, on every continent. Artists, writers, teachers and academics in the famously elite city of Prague founded the Schlaraffia society in 1859. Its aim was to become a place where men could cast their worries away and revel in art, humor and friendship.

Customs, pomp and ceremony from medieval times are used at Schlaraffia sessions, the group maintains a relationship to civic societies of the Medieval Age. The Society’s talisman is an owl, called UHU in German, said to be the emblem of wisdom. The Greeks and Romans believed the owl implied prudence and wisdom.

Schlaraffia is a worldwide German-speaking society…The Schlaraffen…meet in midwinter (October 1 – April 30) once per week in their Schlaraffen castle (equipped in the style of a knight’s tavern from the Middle Ages) for “Sippungen” (gatherings which take place in the fixed ceremonial form of a knight’s play)…

Reychs currently exist in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, Sweden, the USA, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Thailand, South Africa and Austrailia… The approximately 280 “reychs” (local clubs) stay in close contact with one another. Each Schlaraffe is always welcome in every reych in the world.

The total number of Schlaraffen amounts to about 11,000…Their ‘mascot’ is the eagle owl…symbolizing wisdom, virtue and humor (the owl itself presents knowledge and wisdom) and they bear some resemblance to Freemasons.”


Of the three goals of Schlaraffia, the most important one is the sincere friendship that glues the membership. Similar to the Bohemian Club’s concept of destroying “Care” (“the release of everyday mundane concerns for the brotherhood of Bohemian friendship” [Phillips, op. cit., p. 46]), the Schlaraffia say: “As soon as he [the Schlaraffian] enters a ‘castle’ [or ‘Temple’] and comes under the rule of Uhu, the great horned owl of Minerva, he is expected to forget all foolish things of everyday life.”

The place of the Schlaraffia assemblies is called Burg.  The ornate meeting room is dominated by a throne and wall hangings that include banners, coats of arms and crests. A prospective member is greeted by men attired in cloaks heavily decorated with medals, wearing helmets and carrying swords.space

Mysterious Yale Owl Architecture

At about the same time as the Shlaraffia’s founding, a mysterious and inexplicable array of owl symbols and images began appearing quietly, prominently and distinctly in the stones and brickwork architecture at Yale University.

Above: Owl images written into the stone architecture of Yale University’s campus.

Yale University is a private Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the country. Yale is widely considered one of the most prestigious and selective universities in the world.

Above: Owl images written into the stone architecture of Yale University’s campus.

Mysterious, looming towers, massive rock walls covered with ivy, grotesque stone carvings leering from the eaves: most of the buildings at Yale look like they belong in the 11th century. But Yale was established in 1701—not exactly the Middle Ages—and this makes the neo-Gothic architecture that dominates Yale’s campus only a few hundred years old.

Above: Owl images written into the stone architecture of Yale University’s campus.

As we can see, images of owls are literally everywhere embedded in the stone. But, why? What does the owl stand for? What does it symbolize? The easy answer, of course, is that the owl is a symbol of “wisdom,” which is embodied by the university.

But is it possible that there’s more going on here?

It is said that Yale hired architect James Gamble Rogers (1867 – 1947) to give the school an older feel. The University sought to imitate Britain’s venerable Oxford and Cambridge Universities: established bastions of academic prestige.

Above: Owl images written into the stone architecture of Yale University’s campus.

Although the Gothic style which dominates the rest of the campus was intended to inspire fear and awe in cathedral-goers of yore, it has a distinctly 20th-century twist at Yale:

“Stone sculpture built into the walls of the buildings portray contemporary college personalities such as a writer, an athlete, a tea-drinking socialite, and a student who has fallen asleep while reading. Similarly, the decorative friezes on the buildings depict contemporary scenes such as policemen chasing a robber and arresting a prostitute (on the wall of the Law School), or a student relaxing with a mug of beer and a cigarette. The architect, James Gamble Rogers, faux-aged these buildings by splashing the walls with acid, deliberately breaking their leaded glass windows and repairing them in the style of the Middle Ages, and creating niches for decorative statuary but leaving them empty to simulate loss or theft over the ages.”

— Wikipedia

Unlike most neo-Gothic architecture, which is built with steel frames and merely reinforced with stone exteriors, Yale’s Gothic buildings are, for the most part, built with solid stone instead. This tells us that the stonemasons (i.e., read “Freemasons”) who designed and built Yale’s buildings were advanced, perhaps even gifted. The 216-foot Harkness Tower was once the tallest free-standing stone structure in the world, before worried architects decided to reinforce it.

Above: Owl images written into the stone architecture of Yale University’s campus.

Is it possible that the owl symbols rampant in the art and architecture of Yale have a deeper, more esoteric meaning? Are the Yale owls actually symbols of a S.O.S. that was there at the very beginning of this now-famous Ivy League institution? Is the owl in the architecture somehow connected to the later institutions of the Bohemian Club and the National Press Club?




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dsc_0129Richard Cassaro’s new book, The Missing Link, explores the meaning, transformations and propagation of the ancient world’s most important religious icon. His first book, Written in Stone, is a wide-ranging exploration of hitherto-unknown connections among Freemasons, medieval cathedral builders and the creators of important ancient monuments, in support of his theory that a spiritually advanced mother culture, lost to history, is behind many of the world’s architectural and artistic traditions.

Prior to the publication of Written in Stone, Cassaro enjoyed a successful career as a U.S. correspondent, professional journalist, and photo researcher for Rizzoli Publications, one of the world’s leading media organizations. Cassaro, who is a graduate of Pace University in New York City, has examined first-hand the ancient ruins and mystical traditions of Egypt, Mexico, Greece, Italy, Sicily, France, England, India, Peru and Spain; he has lectured on his theories to great acclaim in the United States, Egypt, Italy, Spain and Peru.

Richard Cassaro © Copyright, All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to www.RichardCassaro.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“Verily, verily I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: But if it die it bringeth forth much fruit.”

– John 12:24